if I go to a nice Italian restaurant, I get nice olive oil and bread for dipping before my grilled chicken arrives. The Mediterranean diet is good. But if I coat chicken in bread crumbs and fry it in olive, that’s bad. Why?

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I’m consuming the exact same ingredients – olive oil, bread, and chicken. But fir some reason, one style is healthy and the other is not. What makes it unhealthy? Why aren’t both methods “Mediterranean”?

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You aren’t supposed to have white bread or white flour on the Mediterranean diet. So you can’t eat either the bread you described or the fried chicken you described.

It’s not as bad as it could be, but most people don’t fry chicken in olive oil. Also think about what you eat with your dinner. If you’re at a nicer restaurant then you’re going to get a quality salad, veggies with dinner, etc. Fried chicken is usually not served with particularly healthy sides.

Apparently a high quality, extra virgin olive oil used for cooking is not a bad thing; and I imagine using a wholegrain bread would be better than white bread as well.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-olive-oil-good-for-cooking#bottom-line

Greek here. We don’t coat chicken in breadcrumbs then pan fry it. Maybe Italians do but even then if the do its probably not an everyday thing.

Ethnic restaurants in the US tend to take traditional foods and either a) fry things that traditionally weren’t or b) throw cheese on top of stuff.

Also the bread thing is weird. In Greece your bread comes with food (usually salad or appetizers). The only olive oil you would dip your bread in would be the leftover oil from a salad. Here in America we take the healthy party of that out and serve the unhealthy parts.

But then again if Americans aren’t eating something within 5 minutes of sitting down we get REALLY cranky.

The difference is in the cooking method.

Frying changes the chemical composition of the oil you use. High temperatures stimulates “hydrogenation”, which is the reaction that changes unsaturated fats in trans fats. There is a general consensus that unsaturated fats are better for your diet and your blood lipid equilibrium.

In addition, repeated frying or excessive temperatures may lead to the buildup of cancerous substances. In some countries, the health department requires strict monitoring of frying equipment for this reason.

You don’t fry things in olive oil for two reasons: 1 it has a low temperature “smoke” point, I don’t know its translation in english, but basically the lower the smoke temperature, the bad for the body. Reason 2 it tastes horrible. (And reason 1 comma2 you have to clean a real mess because the oil splashed everywhere).
Said this, there is “cotoletta alla milanese” that is breaded and fried meat (with variation on the meat source: pig, cow, turkey, chicken, the original is made with calf), but it’s fried in sunflower oil or similar.

In addition to the fact that olive oil isn’t great for frying (high temperatures lead to it being broken down into more harmful substances, as many others here have mentioned), the bigger reason is the quantity of oil you would be ingesting.

One of the major reasons for any dietary style being healthy is the relatively low calorie density of healthful foods. Another is variety in the diet. The Mediterranean diet is believed to be good for you because it covers both of the former (in addition to being low in saturated fats and red meat). Olive oil is part of the diet, but is still not consumed by the bucket load. If it was, it would up the calorie content of any meal immensely. Additionally, olive oil is an accompanyment, a condiment to the remainder of the (mostly plant based) food.

So why is olive oil fried chicken worse for you? First, the carcinogens and trans fats and all that. Second, by nature of frying, oil attempts to replace all the water in anything you’re cooking – the chicken actively absorbs oil, ensuring the relatively low calorie density of chicken skyrockets. Pretty much all the calories you should be getting from a meal are thereby coming from one or two pieces of chicken, instead of being derived from a whole variety of fruits, veg and healthy carbohydrates which pack a whole lot more nutritional value (in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, etc.) than olive oil could ever pretend to contain.